So in this recap, as in life, we'll deal with the gossip first: The rumor that Mia Michaels has quit the show -- a rumor started by Mia's own Twitter feed and considered "rumor" simply through the sheer force of stubborn will from fans of the show -- appears to be true. They don't say anything on tonight's show, but Mia choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance: Canada last night (where she apparently also injured her back, independent of the whole quitting thing) and, in the clip package, said she did "resign" from the show. For what reasons, under what conditions, with what caveats, I can't say. I'll just be in this corner sobbing heavily. Love her or hate her (and people do both), as far as I'm concerned, hers were consistently the best routines on the show, and I can't imagine my enthusiasm won't be lessened more than a little bit. But, you know: Show! It's on!
Cat explains what this hour is all about, right off the bat: A "one-off special" to introduce us to the dancers, before the competition starts for real tomorrow. Also, due to the World Series, Tuesday's episode will be performance and results, with the judgery making the elimination without America's input. Here's where I guess I should be outraged -- this being the internet and all -- but honestly, I don't trust their judgment any more or less than "America's" at this stage.
It appears they've kept the design of the too-big stage on last season's finale, but given the smaller confines of the studio (as opposed to the Kodak Theater), I guess it's fine. The judges tonight are: Nigel, Mary, Adam (newly assigned a permanent seat on the security council), and guest judge... an empty seat with Paula Abdul's name on it. No, REALLY. Nigel's shit-eating grin tells us he's issued an open invitation to Paula and he wants to "put the pressure on her" to show up. So is that gonna be there every week? In lieu of a real guest judge like Lil' C or Debbie Allen (much less the dearly departed Mia)? God DAMN it, Paula! It's like you're stalking my life and pledging to make it as annoying as possible.
Cat reminds us: The Top 20 will be dancing tonight in their own styles, out of competition. So... solos? I'm not sure if I can do an hour of solos. Luckily, I won't have to (at least not yet), because Wade Robson has choreographed a group routine to kick us off. Cat talks to Wade and Amanda Robson beforehand about the routine (gang warfare in the 1930s!). The dancers all seem pretty energized by the challenge in rehearsals. "They'll be fine," Wade says, and crosses his fingers, which earns him a smack from Cat.